West End star Vinegar Strokes on why failure is a good thing

Jayne Cherrington-Cook
·2-min read

Watch: Vinegar Strokes talks about her disastrous first West End audition

With an impressive theatrical CV involving Bugsy Malone, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and more recently, Everbody’s Talking About Jamie, Vinegar Strokes is a West End pro. However, a career on stage almost never happened after she bombed at her first West End audition.

“My first ever audition was for a lovely West End musical called Love Never Dies,” recalls Strokes.

I did not smash that audition. I was nervous. Imagine there being twelve dragons judging you? Twelve sweaty hands I had to shake!”

The audition got off to a bad start when Strokes dropped her sheet music and scrambled about trying to collect the pieces of paper and then continued to get worse when she started to sing.

Listen: RuPaul’s Drag Race UK stars give the best advice!

“We got to the first note… Bear in mind, I've only ever sung this song in my bedroom, so I've got an idea how it sounds on piano,” she said.

“He plays the first note… Oh my God! I've been learning that very low note - apparently, it's higher than that! I was off, completely flat!”

The hellish audition didn’t end there though! Strokes went to leave, and realising she probably didn’t have the job, she was keen to exit the room quickly.

“I was sweating. I look a mess,” she declared. “I go to a door, which I believe to be the exit, open it up, and it's the broom closet! I cannot cope!”

While she says that audition was definitely “the most embarrassing 15 minutes of my life”, looking back she regrets nothing.

“Do you know what?” she asks. “I'm so glad that happened. I've spent my whole career failing forward. You fail your way to the top the most fantastic way you possibly can!”

Read more: Courtney Act explains how her Neighbours role came about

In fact, losing the role was probably a blessing in disguise for the drag queen, who appeared on the first UK series of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Love Never Dies – the sequel to The Phantom Of The Opera - lasted just one year in the West End after negative reviews.

Strokes, who’s about to star in Death Drop with Courtney Act next month, believes getting to the top sometimes involves making a few mistakes!

“If you want to be somebody, if you want to go somewhere, get out there and enjoy yourself,” she advises.

“I promise you, you’ll learn so much - and if you make a couple of fails along the way, good for you!”

Death Drop - the Dragatha Christie Murder Mystery is at the Garrick Theatre from 4 December until 17 January. For tickets visit deathdropplay.com

Watch: Baga Chipz explains how karaoke changed her life